The American wireless market is full of different players with varied plans, something that makes life the hardest when one is looking for the best deal out there.
You’ll agree that Verizon and AT&T are by far the most established carriers in the country, but they are quite expensive when it comes to the plans they offer. Still, things have been changing recently as far as pricing and offers are concerned and this gets a lot better when the likes of T-Mobile and Sprint are also factored in. However, these two are not the best as far as coverage is concerned, but as noted, things are improving day and night.
On top of these four major carriers, there is a bunch of MVNO carriers all over, be it Cricket Wireless, MetroPCS and so forth. These platforms have plans that benefit from piggy-backing off other established networks’ services and the result is that they are much more affordable than the rest. This is where Google Project Fi belongs.
When it started out in 2015, Google Project Fi was an invite-only service that was limited to Nexus 6 users. However, a year into business, the search engine giant opened it up to everyone using not only the Nexus 6, but also the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X. Fi works by pinging off services from three different carriers in the U.S. (T-Mobile, Sprint and U.S. Cellular) and one in the UK or rather Europe (Three), depending on which one has the best coverage in your present location.
Project Fi plans are not so bad at all, starting at just $20 per month for unlimited talk and SMS, and $10 for a gig of data. You might be thinking what a great network Fi is, especially if you are looking for something outside the usual four carriers, but before you make the move, here’re six key things you need to know about this Google-owned service before making the switch.
The best customer care services
Just as you’d expect from a company of Google’s caliber, the customer support you get on Project Fi is arguably unmatched. All network service providers have a customer support team, but it can be hell try reaching out to an actual person. You can easily get in touch with a real human in less than a few minutes and all of your problems will be no more.
Pricing and usage
Unlike many other carriers out there, Google Project Fi is the best when it comes to detailing how much you spend each month. You can set a realistic figure of data that you’d wish to use in a month and you only pay for that. In case you don’t hit this target, the balance will be refunded to your account. If you go over the set figure, an additional fee will be applied at the same cost of $10 per GB.
The tech giant also has a Project Fi app that you can download from the Google Play Store. This app makes life easier when it comes to tracking your data usage and alerts you when your next bill is due. The app will also give you details of the amount of data used compared to what you had estimated or rather paid for at the beginning of the month as well as the daily data usage.
Project Fi is the best for international travelers
If you do a lot of traveling abroad and back to the U.S., you might want to consider jumping onto Google Project Fi. The service completely eliminates the need to buy a new SIM card in each country that you visit just so as to keep in touch with your friends back in the country. With Fi, you’ll still be able to enjoy SMS and data services in up to 135 countries across the globe. If you need to make a call, you can do an internet-based call or simply pay a mere 20 cents per minute to place calls on cellular networks.
You can save a lot on data costs depending on your usage
The sole purpose of Google’s Project Fi is to have you save on costs, especially data costs. If you are not a heavy data user, Fi is exactly what you need. For instance, those who use 1GB or less in a month will save a lot on Fi because they’ll end up paying just $30 – or less – per month for both phone and data services. However, if your usage is above 3GB, you might want to check out other players in the industry.
Project Fi also comes with a unique feature – a feature that enables the user to seamlessly switch between cellular and Wi-Fi networks whenever possible. If most of your time is spent in the office where there’s free Wi-Fi, you need to be on Fi. Once you get in the office, your phone will automatically switch to Wi-Fi connection and thus save you even more cellular data. In the end, you’ll be using less mobile data on a daily/monthly basis, which translates to lower costs.
Towards the end of last year, Google introduced group plans on Project Fi. Here, a current account holder can add up to five other people on the same plan at a discounted price of just $15 per line per month. The data charges remain unchanged at $10 per GB per line and depending on each person’s usage; prices might be lower or higher. The Project Fi app allows you to easily pay bills, track usage and carry out general account management for each group member in one place, including limiting data usage for each member. In case a member goes beyond the set limit, the group manager has the power to pause their data services.
It’s limited to five Google phones
When Project Fi came to life, only Google Nexus 6 was supported. However, the company has since released four other phones in the shape of Google Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Pixel and Pixel XL. In order to be part of Fi, you must be using any of these five phones.
One would be quick to point out that Project Fi can still be used on a non-Google phone. But one thing you need to know is that in order to activate the service, you must do it using any of the mentioned Google phones. Furthermore, recent reports have indicated that Google might be cracking down on non-Google devices that are using Fi, so be careful with your choices.
Fi has a data-only SIM card
Interestingly, Google has a data-only SIM card that works with any device that supports GSM connectivity. Once you get activated on Project Fi, you can request for this SIM card at no extra cost. If you have an extra phone in your drawer somewhere, this SIM card will work perfectly on it.
Rather than use your current Nexus 6P or Pixel XL phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot (yes, Project Fi supports tethering), you can get this data-only SIM card, insert it in the said extra phone and turn this phone into a Wi-Fi hotspot in your home. This helps save battery on your primary device as well as the usual wear and tear resulting from overworking a phone.
The data-only SIM card will still be using the same data package that you’ve paid for on the primary device, so be careful with what you do for you may end up with a substantially huge bill to settle at the end of the billing cycle. But as the name suggests, this is just a data-only SIM and nothing more, which means you only get data-related services – no unlimited phone calls or texting on this device.